Busy times.

Updated:  Website Promotion Guide for Personal Blogs and Website Promotion Guide for Static Personal Sites, I noticed links that had gone dead plus I found several new places to submit URL’s to which look very interesting.  Both are good guides for getting either your blog or your html static site discovered.

 

New Category:  “Autos” for mostly vintage automotive sites.

 

New Listings:  I’ve added lot’s of new listings to the directory over the last two months.  Many new personal sites and weblogs.  More sites to be added.

As I add new listings I try to check the directory categories for dead wood (listings that have gone dead) for removal.  This is a never ending process for any directory.  It’s boring as heck but it needs to be done.  It makes me feel like I’m taking two steps forward and one back.

 

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Back in 2019, I was bemoaning the loss of Technorati and other RSS search engines like Ice Rocket and I didn’t think we would see their like again.

Well now it’s 2024 and there has been a renewed interest in RSS feeds and low and behold somebody launched a shiny new RSS feed search engine named Feedle.  It’s pretty nice and I’ve gotten good results on my searches so far.

An RSS feed search engine isn’t going to replace general web search but it does compliment it and it’s handy to have in your search toolbox. This is important for blog discovery and a healthy independent blogging ecosystem.

It seems that Feedle does not just list any old feed.  They warn you upon submission of your RSS feed URL that it will be reviewed for quality.  I assume that means human review, which is a very good thing lest they get overrun by commercial dreck and snake oil salesmen.

Give Feedle a try and let me know what you think.

 

H/T: Colin Devroe via Mastodon.


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I’m aware of the disagreement about the use of Brave Search API as a search source for the Kagi metasearch engine.

I’m sympathetic to both sides in this debate but I feel the need to point out that, right now, Kagi has very limited options available to it in trying to build a good meta-search engine, which is a worthy goal.

There are only a very few search engines that: 1) have their own index, 2) have an API for search results, 3) have an index big enough and an algo good enough to be useful,  4) have enough bandwidth to supply Kagi without crashing or lag.  You need all these things and that narrows the field real fast.  Off the top of my head you have these choices: Bing, Yandex, Mojeek, and Brave for general web search, with a couple of others that are in beta testing and not quite ready.

So Why Not Just Use Bing?

Because – everybody – everybody else is using Bing.  Yahoo uses Bing so does DuckDuckGo and so does many dozens of other search engines.  Kagi is trying to use a monthly subscription model to pay the bills instead of ads.  People are not going to pay a monthly fee to Kagi for yet another Bing retread.  Kagi needs something that is both good and unique which, right now means, they need to create a metasearch engine that uses multiple engines, they are: Yandex, Mojeek and Brave.

And points here to Kagi, they are paying the API fees for rights to use these search results rather than scraping.

So my point here is that Kagi’s attempt at putting together a worthy, multi engine, metasearch engine is a good thing.  The choices are limited and Kagi’s very reason for being is rolled up in it at least until some other search engines with their own indexes come along.  If Kagi waits around for every provider to be a saint that Kagi search engine will never get built.  Sometimes you just have to roll with what is available, now, when you need it.

Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with Kagi search.  I don’t use Kagi search because I’m cheap and don’t want to be paying for yet another subscription.

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About this update:  This is an update of an article from 2022.  There have been enough improvements in 2 years to warrant an update!  2024 updates are in red.  Some items have not changed enough to be updated.

/About this update.

I started this directory in 2018.  Human edited directories were dead.  There were a few around but not a lot.  Discovery was all about search engines, namely Google and Bing, to the exclusion of everybody else.  Webrings were dead, blogrolls had fallen out of favor, ditto RSS.  It seemed like everything had gone commercial and all corporate suit slick and tricky and that maybe the fun part of the Web had died.

But there were pockets of webmasters building a web revival.  Webmasters at Neocities, bloggers at Indieweb.org were not willing to give ground and let Web 1.0 die out.  They started reviving old practices like using RSS, blogrolls, static sites – the fun stuff.

But we lost a lot of Web 1.0.  A lot of the infrastructure built to support the independent web 1.0 had fallen into ruin or was just gone.  We need to replace the best of this Web 1.0 infrastructure to continue.

Things have changed, mainly for the better, since 2018 so I thought I would give you my opinion on where we stand now in 2022.

 

  • Directories – This has been a pleasant surprise.   While directories never quite died off, since 2018 quite a few new small directories have been built. I think Kicks Condor got people thinking about small directories again.  On the big directory front Curlie has refreshed itself and come alive.  The thing is, we need more.  Directories come in so many styles, sizes, each with different features, categories, niches and collections of links.  Some are geographical, some are topical, some are general and some are personal collections of cool links so there is no limit to how many directories there can be.  For individuals who want to start a directory I recommend you find a niche that is under served. The best directory niche I see right now is for the non-commercial retro static html type sites. (Example.) The second niche would be a directory for non-commercial personal blogs.  Or you can do a bit of both. (Example.)
  • Directories – Update 2024:  Directories serving the retroweb have come and gone over the last 2 years, but people are trying.  I’m not seeing new php directories run by server scripts, but I am seeing a lot of very extensive static link pages (see below) that qualify as small directories which is cool.  But I do see steady traffic from some personal website oriented directories so people are using them.  My favorite directory is Joe Jenett’s i.webthings directory which is constantly being updated.
  • Search Engines – Actually, great progress has been made on the search engine front.  For the Slow Web we have Wiby.me, Marginalia and Searchmysite.  On the privacy search engine front we have Mojeek, Brave Search, each with their own index gaining ground.  Gigablast seems to have improved their algo and expanded their index.  And other search engines with their own indexes are going through beta testing.
  • Search Engines – Update 2024:  All the above are still around and recommended.  A new search engine that leans toward the non-commercial sites has started beta testing called Ichido.  It incorporates some neat ideas like telling you if the site has an RSS feed or lots of advertising.  Ichido is crawling the web and has it’s own index but we won’t know how good it can be until it grows that index significantly.  Right now it’s kinda small.  For general search engines: Mojeek continues to grow fast, and some new search engines like Yep, Stract and Mwmbl are testing.  Unfortunately, Gigablast ceased operations in 2023.
  • Blog Hostsfree and low cost blog hosting is an important part of the underlying infrastructure of the independent web.  Unfortunately, we have sort of a mixed bag to report. The Negatives: WordPress.com and Blogger used to be the free gateway sites for those wanting to start a personal blog.  The first seems to be focusing on expensive premium addons while limiting the free service.  The latter has stagnated and nobody is really sure if Google will continue the Blogger service which puts a damper on using them.  The price of domains and full WordPress script self hosting have risen a lot over the last few years which creates a bar to entry.  The Positives: There is some good news in that quite a few new blog hosting platforms have started up, Micro.blog and others come to mind, and are helping to fill the gap.
  • Blogrolls and Link pages – Bloggers and retro webmasters have really stepped up on this front.  Bloggers are once again creating blogrolls, a practice that many had abandoned.  The resurgent surf-the-web movement among retro/yesterweb static site webmasters means nearly every personal homepage has a links page in addition to linked buttons to their friends homepages.  It’s a fantastic thing.
  • Blogrolls and Link pages – Update 2024:  Both blogrolls and link pages are becoming common practice.  Some link pages are extensive.
  • RSS – just a few years ago RSS seemed dead.  Even many bloggers has turned off their RSS feeds and feed reading software and services were slowly dying.  Yet RSS is a way to by-pass the search engine duopoly of Google and Bing. But something has happened.  RSS is making a slow comeback along with the underlying infrastructure.  Even Neocities lets webmasters put an RSS feed on static websites somehow.  Anyway, both webmasters and users are rediscovering RSS which is a good thing.
  • Static Hosting – Neocities, Neocities, Neocities.  Neocities is really where the action is for hosting static sites for free or freemium.  They offer a lot without ads and have created a community of webmasters.  I’m not sure what the retroweb would do without them.  We could use a few more hosts like them just so we don’t put all our eggs in one basket.  I found little Vistaserv.net which sort of helps.  If you know of others please tell me in the comments below.
  • Static Hosting – Update 2024:  Free static hosting has grown so there are more choices than just Neocities (which is still going strong).  Here are some new choices:  Ichi, Leprd, Marigold Town, and Geocities.club.
  • Static Websites – (see Static Hosting above).  This is going good and growing.  To me it seems like an explosion of static sites but the reality is this has been growing since the launch of Neocities in 2015.
  • Static Websites – Update 2024:  This continues to grow!  People are having fun expressing themselves on the Web and learning HTML too.  What’s not to like?
  • Forums – Forums are sort of the original social networks of the Web.  They were great because you could start a forum on almost any topic large or small.  They were decentralized before decentralization was cool.  Forums fell out of favor after Web 2.0 social networks like Twitter and Facebook started.  Yet somehow, forums never quite died and just about anyone with a C-panel type hosting account can start one.  I’m seeing a younger generation starting forums because forums lend themselves to long form posts better than many other platforms.
  • Forums – Update 2024:  I’ll put a plug in for a forum to join that is really good for retroweb fans, Melonland Forum.
  • Hosted Toolsremotely hosted tools used to be everywhere back in the 1990’s when almost all personal websites were static.  Things like guestbooks, reply forms were desired and provided by third parties.  Most were “free” meaning ad supported and when Geocities died they started dying too.  I recently went hunting for these and the news is not good.  Some companies are still around but with reduced offerings.  Some old hosts seem to be operating but have not been updated for years.  Some seem to be offering a fairly modern product but those are very few.  Not a lot of health in this part of the infrastructure.
  • Hosted Tools – Update 2024:  No great change.
  • Webrings – I’m delighted to say I was completely wrong when I said webrings would not make a comeback.  They have.  Lots of coders have come up with scripts on how to start your own webring.  Mind you I’m not sure how easy it is to manage a webring using these scripts but new webrings serving the non-commercial web are coming along all the time.  Martha, there really is a webring revival.
  • Webring Hosting – I’m talking about centralized hosts here.  Webring is dead.  Ringsuf is on life support and closed to new signups. Bravenet pulled the plug on webring hosting years ago. (I wish Bravenet would dust off the old scripts and and lead the revival and bring webrings back.)  That leaves only Webringo.  They are still around and still function but the Web could use some new blood in this sector.  See the old webring hosts had a lot of tools behind the scenes, back in the Ringmaster’s admin panel, that really helped the Ringmaster manage the continuity of the webring (ie. checkers for ring codes, dead site checkers and an email system to contact individual members.)  Because when you get 200 or more members in a webring it becomes a lot of work to manage.  I’m not sure the various new individual scripts people are using have this sort of back-end management features.  UPDATE 23 June 2022:  There is a new webring host webri.ng.  It’s new and a bit spartan but you can host a webring there.
  • Webring Hosting – Update 2024:  It’s in beta but Neorings is a new webring host.
  • Banner Exchanges – Dead.  It’s a pity.  My first commercial venture, prior to the burst of the First Web Bubble, was a niche Science Fiction and Fantasy banner exchange.  In fact, I built my first niche web directory to help find members for that banner exchange.  Oh well.
  • Banner Exchanges – Update 2024:  Here is a good list of 4 free banner exchanges.

 

So am I right, wrong, way off and if so how?  Also what did I miss?  Leave a comment below to tell me about it.

 


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Just a quick note.

If you want to read some good coverage of the US vs Google monopoly trial I strongly recommend: Big Tech on Trial.

I think it’s better that you read that than me trying to unpack Google’s choke points on the Web because it’s not just their market share for search and ads, it’s many layers of control working up the Web food chain that when all put together gives Google an iron grip on the Web.

Things like:

  • Chrome Browser
  • Android
  • ChromeOS
  • Google’s Advertising network
  • Paying Apple to make Google the default search on iOS and macOS.
  • Google’s search market share.

It’s all these things combined and more which keep Google without competitors.

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It’s Time to Add a little Analog Goodness to the Directory

 

Note Taking | Analog Zettelkasten | (Fountain) Pens & Paper | Typewriters

 

I’ve written about adding more analog things into our lives several years ago.

 

Now I finally got around to adding a top level category to the directory entitled:

Click below.

Analog

So far with sub-categories about: Analog note taking, Analog Zettelkasten, Pens & Paper and Typewriters.  There are a good set of starter links in each subcategory.

 

In the future, I plan to add Analog watches and clocks, and maybe general office supplies depending on what links I can dig up.  If you can think up any other subcategories for Analog leave a comment below.

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Digital Garden | Personal Knowledge | Commonplace Book | Website

 

For a long time there have been two types of personal web pages:  1. static, old school, personal homepages, and 2. personal blogs.

 

A digital garden is a place to keep your public notes, partially formed thoughts, ideas, crazy ideas and personal knowledge as you think about them, add on to them as they grow and finally harvest them for some sort of publication either as a blog post, scholarly paper, book or whatever. A digital garden is very different from a blog, but it may well share a website with a blog, or not.  A digital garden is somewhere in between a fleeting thought and a polished essay on a blog.

It’s the new thing and the buzz is catching on.

 

Digital Garden Defined

 

There is no sense in me rewriting what Maggie Appleton has already written better than I can.  Click the link below for her history and description of a digital garden.

A Brief History & Ethos of the Digital Garden

 

The above is well worth reading.

 

I’ve added a new category for Digital Gardens in the directory.  This will provide you with numerous examples of different DG approaches.

 

How to Build Your Own Digital Garden on Neocities Using TiddlyWiki

 

Here is a step by step guide on making a garden with TiddlyWiki.

 

If you want to publish your digital garden on the web (after all, the point is to foster collective thinking), you can host it with any free static website hosting provider, such as GitHub, NeoCities, Netlify, or Vercel.

 

How to build a digital garden with TiddlyWiki

 

Other ways to Create a Digital Garden

 

Digital Gardening for Non-Technical Folks

 

This is a good guide for people, like me, that don’t know how to code their own.  This is so new that there are not digital garden scripts out there yet except for some roll your own on Github.  A lot of people have been pressing wiki scripts into service for this so you might look into that route.

 

Other Reading:

https://stackingthebricks.com/how-blogs-broke-the-web/

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July was a busy month with lots of new features and changes.

 

 

Stumblizer –  In July I cobbled together a random website finder, sorta like the old StumbleUpon.  This has turned out to be surprisingly popular.  There must be a lot of bored people out there.  I keep adding a few new websites to the Stumblizer index when I find something that fits with the theme.

 

Directory Stumble – This is another random site finder like Stumblizer (above) only filled with different types of directories.  It would appear that not everyone is as enamored of directories as I am since it gets almost no use. *sigh*  It was an experiment and just never took off.  But it is unique.  Still, I’ll keep it up because, you never know, somebody, someday, might enjoy it.

 

Retroweb Ring –  Our new webring has gotten steady interest and I invite you to join.

 

Webmaster Page –  I added a page listing various free things and guides we have for webmasters.

 

Changed Weblogs Category –  Weblogs was always the category for personal blogs so it made sense to move it from under Internet to being under Personal Pages.  Like this: Personal Pages > Weblogs.

 

Made a button – W00t.  I made a button for Indieseek.  You can see it on our Link to Us page.  It’s not fancy but it’s a button.  I used Sadgrl’s Button Maker and the excellent Online Converter to convert the image from png to gif.

 

 

Added a bunch of directories.

 

We got listed in – Smooth Sailings Listings , List-Me and Link Lane Listings.  These directories may be small but are well established and have already sent traffic.

 

Turned off Comments on individual Link Listings – only one or two people have ever left comments besides me since we started in 2018 so best to turn them off.

 

That’s the roundup for July.

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Old School Site Promotion 1998 Style

 

To set the scene, back in the late 1990’s everybody on the web was trying to come to grips with web discovery.  That is the discovery of different websites.  There were search engines, lots of them large and small, and frankly none were any good.  There were thousands of general web directories again large ones, smaller ones, many regional ones.  There were also thousands of niche directories: dedicated to different genres, some dedicated to Star Trek, Star Wars, sports, collecting, hobbies etc.  And there were webrings and banner exchanges.

 

Even the best search engines of the day were unlikely to find a personal website by crawling, in a timely manner,  like they do today.  So that raised the question: How do I get people to notice/visit my website?

 

The solution was to Add Your URL to as many search engines and directories as you could.  The idea being that no matter what web index a visitor used you and your site were listed. People would see the name of your site over and over again and eventually check it out.  Mind you, this was all before SEO and link popularity was a thing.  This was about navigating the web, not about getting inbound links like today.

 

Modern search engines have made us webmasters passive about building traffic and recognition.

 

What went Wrong?

 

All this came home to me when I built site submission guides for personal static websites and personal blogs.  I’ve written up similar guides 20 years or more ago and back then I could come up with 20 – 30 quality free directories without even trying.  Today I was hard pressed to come up with a dozen.  It showed me how much of the underlying Web 1.0 infrastructure has been lost.  It wasn’t just the homepages on Geocities that went dark, it was also all the infrastructure that supported those free websites that also has disappeared.

 

Help Bypass the Big Tech Silo Overlords

 

The few tiny search engines and directories that still have a means for you to Add Your URL, need your support by doing just that – submit your URL to them.  This helps fight the Big Tech silo duopoly of Google and Bing, Twitter and Facebook. It helps you to reach beyond Neocities to the general public.  It all helps raise your “Channels of Visibility“.  The more channels you are on the better off you are.

 

The Common Wisdom Tips of Old School Self Promotion

 

  1. Submit your URL to every search engine and directory you can, as mentioned above.
  2. Be sure to include the keywords that describe your site in any description requested.
  3. When a new search engine or directory is announced, submit your URL right away.  It is easier to get into a directory or search engine when it is new and needs URL’s to satisfy search queries.  Later on they get fat with both real submissions or spam submissions so getting listed gets harder or they change the criteria to make it harder to get listed (ie. only allowing top level domains and forbidding subdomains, or requiring payment.)  The point is, get in while they really need you and while it’s free.
  4. On personal websites, static or blog, only YOU know what is important on your website.  Don’t expect a directory editor to intuit and find everything on your site and then custom write a description for you.  The editor is busy, has 20 other sites waiting in line they don’t have time to really ruminate on your website contents.  This is why you should not wait for a directory to find your site and maybe add it.  You need to be proactive, if the directory allows you to add your URL you should do it so you have a chance of getting the best description.
  5. The above holds true webrings.

 

The New: Social Networking

 

What did not really exist back in the 1990’s was social networking as we understand it today.  The practice of POSSE: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere, is another way of bypassing the Big Tech search engine gatekeepers.  It helps, but the effects are fleeting.  A directory listing lasts a long time but a mention in a Tweet might give you a burst of traffic but then that disappears.  So do use POSSE, where appropriate, but don’t rely on it alone.

 

 

 


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Note:  To do – make some 88×31 buttons.  Maybe a banner. Needed for Link to Us purposes.  Might need a paint program.

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